THE GREATEST HITS SESSIONS:
Dates: July - August 2003
Players: Flea, John Frusciante, Chad Smith, Anthony Kiedis.
Additional Performers: None known, apart from a variety of wind instrument session players.
Recorded at: The Mansion, 2451 Laurel Canyon Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA.
Produced by: Rick Rubin
Engineered by: David Schiffman, Greg Fidelman
Mixed by: Richard Dodd / some tracks unmixed
Released on: Yet to be released in-full. See below.
released as a standalone single and on the Greatest Hits compilation in November 2003
Save The Population
released on the Greatest Hits compilation in November 2003
The Bicycle Song
released, confusingly, as bonus tracks for "By the Way" in 2006 on online stores
leaked to the internet in unmixed, instrumental form in 2014
When the band went to 'the Mansion' studio (in which they recorded Blood Sugar Sex Magik and later Stadium Arcadium) to record two songs for a planned Greatest Hits release in summer 2003, they ended up recording fifteen (or, as Chad has recently said - "like sixteen") songs instead.
The six confirmed tracks they recorded are listed above. What else they recorded is yet to be revealed, however some estimated guesses can be made.
In August of 2003, when the band went back on tour in support of By The Way, they started to perform what's known as the 'Don't You Ever Leave' jam after 'Throw Away Your Television': was this a new song written during the GH sessions, an old song from BTW sessions, or just a jam from soundcheck? It would appear to be a fully-fledged song, as the band played it in virtually the same way every time.
Furthermore, it has been said that songs from the 2004 world tour, such as 'Leverage of Space', 'Rolling Sly Stone', 'Mini-Epic/Kill For Your Country' and even studio performances of their covers of 'Black Cross' and 'Brandy' were recorded. This is just an educated guess, but this article seems to back that up, as does the fan interaction below.
Because those songs were debuted live in 2004, there's the chance that they were first written and rehearsed in 2004, after the 2003 sessions and during the downtime of late 2003. The Greatest Hits sessions were between two legs of the 'By the Way' tour; if 'Leverage of Space' and others were recorded during that break, why didn't they start playing them on those final three legs in 2003? A good question. Then there's the elusive Desiree - in February 2006 a fan on the stadium-arcadium.com forum spoke to Flea at a benefit for the Silverlake Conservatorium and recounted this afterwards:
"I inquired whether they had recorded studio versions of Rolling Sly Stone, Leverage of Space, Mini-Epic, Brandy, etc. He seemed surprised I knew about their existence, and I told him I'd been at Hyde Park. He said they recorded them back during the Greatest Hits session, intending to put them on a new record. But, then Stadium Arcadium came around. As Flea was walking past, Anthony asked him what they were doing with the aforementioned songs. Flea mentioned there was another song called Desiree they'd recorded as well."
Of course, Desiree may well turn out to be another name for Starlight or 50Fifty.
Chad stated in 2013 that the band recorded fifteen or sixteen basic tracks, but Anthony only finished vocals for "six or seven", so that may only leave two or three more completed tracks left from the sessions. He went on to say that the songs were scrapped entirely after John decided the music didn't fit his current way of playing; the band went on to write new music and release it in 2006 on Stadium Arcadium.
It is our hope that a boxset or archival release will one day shed more light on these recording sessions.